Conservationists Boycotting Sri Lankan Elephant Count

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 11:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Sri Lankan conservationists are withdrawing their support for a census of the country's wild elephant population.

A coalition of wildlife groups announced their opposition Tuesday, accusing the Sri Lankan government of using the count as a cover to capture the animals.

Conservationists began pulling out of the census after Wildlife Minister S.M. Chandransena said 300 young elephants would be captured and given to Buddhist temples.

Sri Lankan officials estimate the island nation has 5,000 to 6,000 wild elephants.

The census, scheduled to start Thursday, aims to count the elephants as they come to drink at lakes, water holes and reservoirs throughout the country. Officials say past counts were limited to certain regions and sometimes excluded the country's north and east because of heavy fighting during the country's civil war.

The government says data from the census will be used to help develop strategies to protect the elephants and their habitat, which has been cut in half since the 1930s.